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Infant Toddler Development Training
Module 5, Lesson 2

Family Partnerships Are Important

As stated in the previous lesson, partnerships with families are not only mandated by law, but they are a positive force in ensuring optimal outcomes for infants and young children with disabilities. Given the emphasis on family participation and collaboration in the Early Steps service delivery system, early intervention professionals need the skills to communicate and work well with not only their peers in the community, but with families as well.

It is important for families and professionals to develop strong interpersonal relationships as a basis for collaboration. A study by Blue-Banning, Summers, Frankland, Nelson, and Beegle (2004) looked at family/professional partnerships for collaboration in early intervention. The authors state that "...forging supportive relationships between parents and professionals appears to be at the heart of a collaborative partnership" (p. 168).The authors examined indicators of professional behavior which facilitated collaboration with families. They identified these six indicators as crucial for collaboration:

  1. Communication
  2. Commitment
  3. Equality
  4. Skills
  5. Trust
  6. Respect

These are similar to what Christenson and Sheridan (2001) have identified as important components of collaboration. Families and professionals each have an important role to play. Their roles do not replace each others but rather compliment and reinforce each other as partners. The key to making collaboration work is the ability to build relationships. By emphasizing the relationship between two individuals, the need to define specific roles lessens. Building a strong relationship between two people and among members of a team maximizes the potential for collaborations to be strong and have a positive impact on the family/professional partnership. (Bruns & Corso, 2001; Christenson & Sheridan, 2001; Klass, 2004; Thorp, 1999).

Reflect back on pages 7-10 of the Resource Bank document, Our Journey with Families: Service Delivery in Natural Environments in Rural Areas

Can you see the service provider developing a relationship and partnership with the family? Can you identify where any of the six indicators mentioned above in the Blue-Banning et al. material are illustrated in the scenarios?


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